The Ambassador in Turkey (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 16—4:01 a.m.]
1295. A few weeks ago one of our 4 Liberator planes interned in Turkey was sent by the Turkish authorities to Eskisehir together with the following 8 American internees: Lieutenant Nathan Brown, Lieutenant Walter Swarner, Lieutenant Robert Humphreys, Lieutenant Wilbur West, Lieutenant Eugene Ziesel, Sergeant Jimmie Briscoe, Sergeant Ula Taylor, Sergeant George Charles.
Yesterday while these eight internees were working on the Liberator they departed with the plane for parts unknown. I suggest that Colonel Maguire at Lydda or General Andrews at Cairo may by now have knowledge of the present whereabouts of this plane and the eight internees.
The Foreign Office this afternoon informally protested against the taking of the plane and requested its immediate return pointing out that connivance by the Turkish Government in the escape will be charged by the Axis.
The Department will recall that the 4 planes (2 of which are damaged) were turned over to the Turkish Government in return for certain favors including the delivery to the Embassy of the secret instruments. For this reason I recommend that the plane be returned at once. As the eight aviators under instructions from the Embassy never gave their parole I see no reason for their return. In the event that the plane is returned I anticipate little difficulty in making necessary arrangements with Turkish Government for immediate departure of crew that brings it in.
Any publicity whatsoever in connection with foregoing will seriously jeopardize possibility of escape for remaining internees.
Please inform General Arnold of the foregoing.